Charter’s claims that T-Mobile’s 5G home internet service is “spotty” and “glitchy” go to far, according to the National Advertising Division, which recommended the cable TV provider modify or cease several claims against the wireless company.
The NAD, which is part of the BBB National Programs, ruled that two of its commercials and claims on its websites unfairly malign T-Mobile’s 5G home internet service. The crux of all of the claims is its cable-based internet service is both faster and more reliable than T-Mobile’s offering, something the NAD took issue with. The wireless carrier challenged the ads with the agency.
The back-and-forth underscores the intense rivalry brewing between 5G home internet and cable internet providers. In the last quarter, a vast majority of broadband growth came from the 5G home side, with some cable TV players actually losing internet customers. But the cable industry has maintained that 5G home internet offers an inferior service that’s less reliable than the higher end cable options.
Those criticisms haven’t dampened enthusiasm for 5G home internet, with consumers appreciating the easy installation process and straightforward pricing.
In a separate commercial, Charter suggested that T-Mobile could not adequately support five people in a single household. The NAD suggested the company modify the claim to note that there could be the possibility of a slowdown during peak times, a nuanced change the messaging.
The claims stem from an Ookla study that found that 20% of T-Mobile’s home internet customers didn’t receive broadband speeds during peak hours, but those customers largely use its slower 4G-based service. The speeds found in that study wouldn’t be sufficient for five people. T-Mobile offered its own study of internet speeds, but the NAD declined to use it.
The agency suggested Charter modify its comparisons to say it was comparing its service with T-Mobile’s home internet, and not its 5G home internet service, since T-Mobile’s offering includes home internet running on its slower 4G LTE network. It also told Charter to stop making the suggestion that the faster 5G home internet service is only available in metro areas, since it is offered in some rural communities. It’s a nuanced distinction that more points to the difference between T-Mobile’s 5G and 4G-based internet services.
The NAD also recommended Charter stop saying that T-Mobile home internet “fails to meet the demands of today’s average consumer usage.”
Charter said in a statement included in the NAD press release that it would comply with the agency’s recommendations.
Charter “welcomes NAD’s recognition of Charter’s right – with certain modifications – to distinguish its internet service from T-Mobile’s by touting product differences that provide meaningful benefits to consumers.”
A spokesman for Charter reiterated the statement. A spokesperson for T-Mobile wasn’t available for comment.